Making Homeschool Work for Special Needs

by Mary Ann on March 27, 2012

Cindy Walker and Maggie learn about the letter "M"

Maggie has severe cerebral palsy. Maggie has a very special friend named Cindy Walker. She comes over to have school every week and gives Maggie some special time and attention. If you have a special needs child then finding a “special” friend for them can be a real help. Cindy helps make homeschool work for Maggie’s special needs. Maggie’s CP symptoms are: she can’t verbally speak, use her arms and hands well, walk, move on her own, or express herself in words. Cindy has become very good at teaching this child with CP.

When Cindy comes she has learning activities that she can assist Maggie to do. She includes Jack (age 4) and Mary (age 2) if they are interested. Sometimes they are but Maggie is almost 6 and so many of her activities just don’t hold their attention.

The last time that Cindy came I was watching my grandchildren and so I got to see what a fun time they had and I want to share what they did with you.

Maggie is learning all about the letter “M”. This is a letter that we are really working on helping her say. Her lips do not close like most children’s so it is an extraordinary challenge for Maggie. So today they were doing some more “M” practice.

They made a collage of many different pictures all starting with M. Cindy said the M word and then Maggie tried to say the M word.

Making an "M" collage

Practicing writing "M's" and Maggie

Cindy, who spends a lot of time helping and thinking about Maggie, had made a darling picture story about “Mary, the Mouse with Measles”. All the children loved reading the story.

Mary the Mouse has measles!

Each time that Cindy comes she and Maggie create a journal page for Maggie’s “Learning Journal” Today they wrote about the trip that they all took to the Utah School for the Deaf to have Maggie’s ears tested. They wrote about the sounds they heard and Cindy and Maggie recreated the sound pitches. Here is what they wrote together: Jack and I had our hearing tested. We can hear. (Cindy asked Maggie, “Do we need a period or an exclamation mark?”) Then they practiced saying “We can hear” with emphasis! At this point Jack exclaimed “I am Buzz Lightyear. I come in peace!!!

Discussing what to write in Maggie's journal.

While Maggie was busy learning Jack was all over the table and chairs blowing his train whistle, eating cookies and making comments. He also turned the popcorn popper lid into a Darth Vader mask. Cindy is VERY patient!

"Luke I am your father!" Yes Jack does say that with just the right amount of breathiness. : )

Maggie drew some “M” pictures with some special crayons. She loves working at holding on to things and seeing the result.

Maggie has learned to hold a crayon. Way to go Maggie!!!

Of course they ended their “m” session by eating marshmallows. Maggie enjoyed that the most!

MMMMMMM for marshmallows!

To finish off the day they read from their children’s classic “The Secret Garden”. This book did NOT appeal to Jack.

Maggie follows along with her finger.

Working with special needs children can be fun and very rewarding. To sumarize: When homeschooling a special needs child

  •  Be patient
  • Let them do everything they can.
  • Help as much as they need, they will still feel accomplished.
  • Develop a system so they can answer questions. (Maggie can choose one of two fingers)
  • Remember they are just like any child in their need to do and learn.
  • They are interested in the same things as other children.
  • Don’t be afraid to let them try. They aren’t afraid to try!

How do you make homeschool work for your special needs child?

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